The Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has issued an apology to a Boorowa family after they were forced to transfer their sick son to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital instead of Canberra Hospital.
Boorowa resident Nikki Burton Taylor admitted her son to Boorowa Hospital last Friday.
“I raised my concern about going to Wagga and asked if we could instead go to Canberra as it would be quicker and safer,” she said.
“The nurse spoke to the patient flow coordinator who refused the request.
“When the paramedics arrived they too questioned the safety of subjecting a sick baby who may need emergency fluids to a 2.5 hour ambulance ride when Canberra was much closer.”
Chief Executive of Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), Jill Ludford, said Ms Burton Taylor should have been offered the choice of hospital.
“Murrumbidgee Local Health District wishes to express sincere apologies to the child’s family for the distress they experienced,” she said.
“This patient’s family should have been offered the choice of being transferred to The Canberra Hospital or to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.
“We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible care to our patients and the District will ensure the closest and most appropriate hospital is chosen for all Boorowa Hospital patients if they need further treatment.”
Ms Burton Taylor said it was a potential “health risk” for patients to be transferred to Wagga over Canberra.
“Wagga is a two and a half hour drive from Boorowa, whereas Canberra is only 1 hour 20 minutes – or around 60 minutes under lights and sirens,” she said.
“Subjecting already sick patients to an additional hour of travel time, and delaying their treatment in hospital is creating an unacceptable health risk to Boorowa constituents.”
Ms Burton Taylor also noted the potential risk to paramedics who undertake the longer round trip.
“Aside from the patient health issue, the paramedics who drove us to Wagga had just come off a ten hour shift when they received our transfer request,” she said.
“In a job where driver fatigue creates a significant work health safety risk, as well as a risk to the public, I believe all available steps should be being taken to minimise driver overtime and fatigue.”
The Boorowa News reached out to Pru Goward MP for comment.